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Wembley will be great says Clarke

Orient captain Nathan Clarke (centre) celebrates their win over Peterborough (pic: Simon O'Connor) Orient captain Nathan Clarke (centre) celebrates their win over Peterborough (pic: Simon O'Connor)

Robin Cottle
Thursday, May 15, 2014
1:00 PM

Orient captain looking to lead club to promotion

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“When these days come around you have to grab it with both hands.”

That was the message from Orient skipper Nathan Clarke as he led his team into the League One play-off final.

The strapping defender has suffered the heartache of crashing out in the play-offs at Huddersfield earlier in his career.

“You’re so close, but to miss out is heartbreaking,” said Clarke.

“I’ve been knocked out a couple of times in the semis, but it makes up for it 100 per cent to get promoted that way.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for a club like Orient to get to Wembley and I’m proud to be here.

“I went to Wembley a couple of years ago when Huddersfield got promoted, but not as part of the squad so I’m looking forward to it.”

Clarke will have one eye on the other semi-final between Rotherham and Preston – who include his younger brother Tom among their ranks.

But he admits that whoever the O’s play they will probably be underdogs, a tag they have worn with relish for much of the season.

This is something which has galvanised the squad, according to Clarke.

“We know what quality we have in this squad and we’re excited,” he added.

“Over the season we’ve drawn on experiences like Yeovil last season.

“It will be the highlight of my career. It doesn’t get any better than leading your team out at Wembley.”

Clarke reserved praise for Orient’s enthusiastic chairman Barry Hearn.

The Matchroom Sport boss has promised the squad a trip to Las Vegas irrespective of what league the O’s will be in next season and is a constant presence at home matches.

The captain said: “He’s been fantastic. He’s got so many other things going on with the company, but the amount of support he gives the manager and the players is brilliant.

“I couldn’t speak highly enough of him.”

Clarke has already received requests for tickets for the big day on May 25, but he added: “There will be a bit of calm before the build-up starts. I’m very emotional right now.”

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